Killing Time

Bayside - Killing Time

There’s something that a lot of bands in today’s music scene don’t have. It’s a combination of things, really. It’s the consistency to be great, even good, over a considerable length of time, coupled with the guts and killer instinct to try out new things, to stretch boundaries and challenge themselves as musicians.

Bayside is a band that has that combination. With the release of its fifth studio full-length since 2004, Bayside has once again proven the notion that bands can keep the same sound they’ve had for years while still growing and putting out refreshingly worthwhile records. Killing Time takes the sound that the band focused on with 2008’s Shudder and mixes in glimpses of great Bayside records of years past. There are certain audible glimpses throughout the course of the 10-track record where fans familiar with Bayside’s earlier work will pick out parts where Bayside sounds like its old self, and parts where fans will notice that the band is trying something they’ve never done before.

All the while, Killing Time never once sounds recycled, rehashed, or redone. Opener “Already Gone” is a blisteringly paced kick-start to the record, followed immediately by lead single “Sick, Sick, Sick,” a catchy and lyrically scathing number that will have you pogo-ing in your living room. “Mona Lisa” is full of sweeping key changes, as you’ll have to try your hardest to not sing along when Anthony Raneri belts out, “You’re bed’s been made / Now go die in it.”

Only three songs into the record, listeners realize that Bayside has kept its wonderful core sound. Anthony Raneri’s legendary abrasive lyrics accompany his undeniably distinctive vocals, while Jack O’Shea melts your face off with brilliant lead guitar work and Chris Guglielmo paces everything with pounding drum beats. It’s a formula that is tried and true, that has launched Bayside into an elite level of bands in the last decade or so, and something that shouldn’t be, and rightfully wasn’t, changed.

The middle of the record is where the album puts some meat on its bones, most notably with “It’s Not A Bad Little War” and “Seeing Sound.” The former is a relatively uplifting track, where Raneri sings, “We are our only chance in the world / If faith should fail us then hope will see us through.” The themes present on Killing Time aren’t too in-depth or out of the norm for what you might expect from Bayside, but this band has steadily improved on the lyrical front as it has released more music and Killing Time is no exemption from that rule. “Seeing Sound” proves to be the standout track on the album, as an absolutely dominating guitar riff takes over the introduction, pacing matters for a slew of one-liners from Raneri. Here, the melody takes center stage, highlighting one of the catchier numbers in this band’s catalog. The song hits its climax when Raneri spits out, “Heartbreak’s a trend these days / But I could care less / I’ve never been that trendy anyways.” 

While I don’t usually feel comfortable quoting this many lyrics, Bayside is the sort of band that requires an exception. “The Wrong Way” immediately follows “Seeing Sound” and starts off by punching listeners right in the earhole with this gem: “I’ve seen you bite your nails in guilty thought / Thought you couldn’t care less till I saw those paws / Let’s say you took a bit for every lie you told / You would have run out of fingers and started on your toes.” There’s a freshness, an irresistible quality and attraction to lyrics like these that certain people won’t be able to get past, and those are the people who will agree with me when I say that Bayside has, with Killing Time, released its most impressive and timeless record.

”On Love, On Life” slows things down for a bit, giving the listener a breather from the furious tempo that infects most of the record. The closing duo of “The New Flesh” and the title track are edgy pop punk done right in all its glory. The only thing that stops Raneri from taking center stage for himself with quality chorus after quality chorus is the band’s instrumentation. This isn’t exactly a problem that listeners should be upset with, as O’Shea’s contribution on the guitar is something for the ages on this record. With impressive harmonics and riff-tastic pieces strewn all across Killing Time, it complements Raneri’s vocals perfectly. The closing title track is a perfect example, as Bayside is the perfect platform for O’Shea to unleash his fury on the masses via dark and fundamentally technical guitar work.

Killing Time may very well be this band’s opus. It’s hard for me to say that, because The Walking Wounded is an extremely adored record both to me personally and to a lot of diehard Bayside fans. But with every individual member at the top of their individual game, they have fused to create an album that can’t and won’t be ignored in 2011. While a variety of bands are reuniting and putting out long-awaited records this year, Bayside is a rock of solid consistency in a landscape where consistency is an increasingly lost cause.

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